Hoover’s Reniya Kelly Leads Alabama to 88-74 Win in Alabama-Mississippi Girls’ Classic
By Randy Kennedy | AHSAA
Mobile, AL – Senior point guard Reniya Kelly of Hoover High School is a prolific scorer. But the future North Carolina Tar Heel also got to show off her playmaking ability Saturday at the Mitchell Center on the campus of the University of South Alabama.
Kelly led the Alabama team with 23 points but also had eight rebounds, five assists and a steal in leading Alabama to an 88-74 win over Mississippi in the annual Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Classic basketball game. The win was the sixth in a row in the series for Alabama’s girls and improved their record in the series to 19-14.
“I knew we had some great shooters on this team, so I knew that if I just made great decisions with the ball we could get some great looks,” said Kelly, who earned MVP honors for Alabama in the process.
The Alabama shooting prowess was a deciding factor in the game. The team made 43.5 percent of its 3-point attempts, 72.2 percent of its free throws and 37.7 percent overall from the field.
Alabama made 10 3-pointers in the game, including three each from Kelly and Deshler’s Chloe Siegel, two from Olivia Vandergriff of Guntersville, and one each from Kennedy Langham of Sparkman and April Hooks of Hewitt-Trussville.
Kenny Hill of Guntersville, head coach of the Alabama team, and assistant coach Katie Barton of Saint James borrowed an offensive set from Class 7A state champion Hoover to get the Alabama team going.
“I watched some film of Hoover and saw a set they ran with two bigs setting a screen up high and letting Reniya make a decision on where to go with the ball,” Hill said. “That worked for us, but we knew that shooting could come and go. We played great man-to-man defense all day and we played hard. We had fun all week, but we made it clear we were here to win.”
As expected, Mississippi was led by the player who has been the state’s best all year, Germantown 6-foot-1 guard Madison Booker. The Texas signee earned MVP honors for Mississippi with 25 points, seven rebounds, three steals, three blocks and one assist. Alabama’s Kelly compared Booker to former Texas star Kevin Durant.
Alabama took the lead in the first two minutes of the game and led almost the entire way. Mississippi did take a brief three-point lead early in the second quarter before a shooting barrage proved to be the difference. Over a four-minute period, Alabama got a 3-pointers from Hooks, three long-distance bombs from Siegel and another from Kelly to complete a 15-7 run.
Deshler’s Siegel, a North Alabama signee who set the NFHS National career 3-point goals made record in her prep career, sank 3-of-5 treys attempted versus Mississippi and finished with 10 points. Guntersville point guard Olivia Vandergrift, a Lipscomb University signee, also had 10 points. Langham had 14 points and a team-high 10 rebounds, Alabama signee Naomi Jones of Jackson had eight rebounds and Auburn signee Timya Thurman of Linden had five as the hosts out-rebounded Mississippi 61-40 for the game.
“We fought hard and had great energy. Alabama was tough,” said Mississippi coach Tameika Brown of Madison Central. “We didn’t shoot the ball well down the stretch, but I couldn’t be more proud of the effort and what a great week we had.”
Mississippi also got a strong game from Kynnedi Davis of Brandon, who scored 13 points.